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Oral Health is Essential

Oral health is essential to the general health and well-being of all people.

The mouth includes not only the teeth and gums and their supporting tissues, but also the hard and soft palate, the mucosal lining of the mouth and throat, the tongue, the lips, the salivary glands, the chewing muscles, and the upper and lower jaws.  Equally important are the branches of the nervous, immune, and vascular systems that animate, protect, and nourish the oral tissues, as well as provide connections to the brain and the rest of the body.

Oral health means much more than healthy teeth.  It means being free of chronic oral-facial pain conditions, oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers, oral soft tissue lesions, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, and scores of other diseases and disorders.


Tips for Oral Health:

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice each day.
    • For proper brushing an flossing techniques, click here.
  • Visit a dentist every six months.
    • Not sure about insurance coverage?  Click here for more information.
    • Looking for a dentist?  Click here.
  • Check out WWHF’s new Oral Health Pinterest Board for some great pins on Oral Health.


Do You Know Osteoporosis?

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. You make think you don’t need to worry about osteoporosis yet, but think again…

Here in America’s Dairyland, you might expect that we all take in plenty of calcium resulting in GREAT bones!  But the truth is many of us develop osteoporosis in later life and suffer from broken bones or worse.  Please read on, even if you are decades away from concerns about brittle bones or hip fractures because NOW may be when you can make a real difference in your future.

Think of your bones as a bank account, where you make “deposits” and “withdrawals” of bone tissue. During early childhood and through adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn, so the skeleton grows in size and density. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys. The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton, known as bone mass, can keep growing until around age 30. At that point, bones have reached their maximum strength and density, known as peak bone mass. This is why it is so critical that children and adolescents get enough calcium and that, as adults, we do not skimp on dairy foods to cut out calories in our diets.

Most women go through rapid bone loss in the first few years after menopause, which you have a chance to change some of the risk factors you may have for osteoporosis. Make sure to get enough calcium-rich foods and vitamin D in your daily diet. Be sure to get regular weight bearing exercise because that strengthens your bones. Also,avoid chronic alcohol use, as well as tobacco, because both these habits affect your bone density.

We should all be aware of the risk factors we cannot change because “knowledge is power.” It is tempting to think that we can worry about this when we get older, but now is the time to know and to act. For more information on bone health and risk factors, please visit the NIH Osteoporosis National Resource Center.

For more information about Medicare’s coverage of bone mass measurements, please visit the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To learn more about National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, please visit The National Osteoporosis Foundation website.

Have you had a checkup recently?

Mother’s day kicks off National Women’s Health week.  National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.

On Monday, May 13th we observed National Women’s Checkup Day.  As the 14th annual observance, WWHF wants to encourage women to take the following steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks for certain diseases:

  • Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings.
  • Get active.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet, and texting while driving.

women-laughingWe all have a role to play in women’s health.  Women often serve as caregivers for their families, putting the needs of their spouses, partners, children, and parents before their own. As a result, women’s health and well-being becomes secondary.   As a community, we have a responsibility to support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them make the steps for longer, healthier, happier lives.


And remember, it all begins with a healthy woman!

Alcohol & Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week

Did you know, that in the US, about 1 million pregnant women smoke cigarettes and another 750,000 women drink alcohol during pregnancy?  An additional 225,000 women use an illicit drug at least once while pregnant.

Not only are these statistics alarming, but fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD) are the leading known cause of developmental disabilities in newborns.  Features of FASD children include:

  • growth deficiency before and after birth
  • developmental delays
  • intellectual challenges
  • behavioral problem
  • changes in facial features such as a flattened midface, small jaw and/or a thin upper lip

Tobacco exposure during pregnancy can cause:

One common illicit drug used during pregnancy is cocaine.  Perinatal cocaine exposure can result in complications such as:

  • low birth weight
  • smaller head circumference
  • abnormal neonatal behavior
  • cerebral infarction at birth
  • ADHD
  • a variety of visual and perceptual problems
  • difficulties with fine motor skills.

1babyinyellowDespite disheartening prognoses, there is hope.  The fewer number of women who abuse alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, the fewer infants and children will suffer from these complications.

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation has two programs focusing on substance use prevention during pregnancy. First Breath assists women with tobacco cessation, while My Baby & Me aims to provide women with alcohol education.  For more information about our programs, please visit www.wwhf.org.



  • For more information on alcohol and other drug-related birth defects, take a look at this NCADD fact sheet.
  • For tips on birth defect prevention from the CDC, click here.


Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday and the WWHF would like to help you celebrate! Please enter your mom’s name and email in the form below and we’ll send her a Mother’s Day e-card.purple-wedding-bouquet-flowers

You can also make a donation in honor or memory of your mother by following this link. Your support will help us continue to achieve our mission of helping Wisconsin women and their families meet their healthiest potential through education, prevention, and early detection of diseases that affect women the most: cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, domestic violence, mental illness and tobacco and alcohol use during the perinatal period.

You can continue celebrating Mother’s Day and the women in your life by visiting “My Health Week” on our website.


Our Live Auction

Our Live Auction is still open! You can still contribute to the WWHF by donating directly to one of our health topic areas. “Bidding” on a Donation Station item is considered a donation directly to benefit a certain program or activity at the WWHF. All amounts for Donation Station purchases are tax deductible donations to the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.

Community Health Grants
These donations, combined with income from our WWHF license plate sales, support grants of up to $2,500 for local community projects impacting women’s and family health issues. Since the program’s inception, 129 grants totaling over $160,000 have been distributed to local projects and nonprofits across Wisconsin!
In Honor/Memory Donation
Honor a loved one with a donation in their memory or honor. A certificate is mailed in tribute of your generous gift! WWHF staff will contact you for more information about your in honor/memory of donation and tribute following the Spring Gala event.
Breast Cancer Prevention
Help prevent breast cancer with your donation of $100 to purchase breast self-exam models for use in rural communities by GrapeVine Program nurses! Practical tools like these are invaluable during health education sessions, allowing women to practice feeling lumps and tumors on the model so they know what to watch for at home. A $100 self-exam model can truly save a life.

For more information about the GrapeVine Program, please visit the WWHF website at http://www.wwhf.org/programs/grapevine-project/.
Healthy Births
Support the cost of one woman completing our First Breath smoking cessation program!

Smoking is the leading modifiable risk factor for adverse birth outcomes. First Breath helps women quit smoking during and after pregnancy so each baby’s first breath can be a healthy breath. The WWHF currently works with 140 First Breath sites statewide and has served over 13,000 women since its inception.
Women’s Health Research
the WWHF Woman Faculty Scholar Program and provide more women the opportunity to reach leadership positions in academic medicine where they can contribute to scientific study in women’s health.

Since the program’s inception, over $400,000 has been awarded to junior faculty members conducting cutting edge women’s health research in Wisconsin!
Parish Nurse Scholarship
Sponsor the cost of Parish Nurse certification, allowing an RN to receive additional training and begin offering health education and outreach services to his or her community.

The WWHF’s GrapeVine program partners with Parish Nurses statewide, providing them with educational tools, presentations, and handouts for community education sessions. We offer two scholarships per year and have a waiting list of nurses who want to get involved.
Major Donor’s Circle
Support the WWHF’s ongoing growth and program expansion statewide. Celebrate 16 years of service, education, and prevention with your donation today!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Teachers are important to us here at the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation. Not only was our founder and president, Sue Ann Thompson, a teacher for 30 years, but we all understand that we are where we are today because of wonderful teachers. We thought the best way to express our appreciation on National Teacher’s Day is too share some of WWHF’s most impactful teachers.

My 3rd grade teacher influenced me so very much.  Third grade was a rough place for a chubby 9 year old, and ever so subtly my teacher, Mrs. M, taught me about self-confidence and beauty that goes beyond the skin.  Mrs. M also showed me that nothing is impossible and that comparing myself to others would get me nowhere.  There are lessons that she taught me that I will pass onto my children- the world is a better place because of teachers like Mrs. M.

Moranda Medina Lopez – Health Educator


I’ve had the blessing of living with a teacher for the first 18 years of my life, and subsequently talking to one every day.  Having your mother as a teacher isn’t always fun growing up – they know when you’re faking sick and they don’t believe you when you tell them, “I don’t have homework tonight.”  But, my mom, a 7th Grade biology teacher, was able to truly express to me the importance of education, teacher appreciation, and learning outside the classroom.  When some class seemed unimportant, my mom was always able to explain to me how it WAS relevant to my life.  Never did a holiday go by when my teachers didn’t receive some small ornament and “Thank You” card.  It’s because of her that all my college professors received a thank you at the end of the semester.  She taught me the value of hard work and education and I can’t thank her enough for that.  On top of all that she did for her children’s teachers, my mom never expects a thank you from any of her own students.  But she remembers when they take the time to say it.

McKaye Whiteside – PR & Events Coordinator


My most impactful teacher was Adam Himlie, my high school English teacher. I had him for ninth grade English as well as Humanities (Philosophy) my junior year. He was an outstanding teacher because he was constantly looking for innovative ways to make the subject matter more accessible.

In 9th grade, we were doing a Shakespeare unit and he had us break up into groups, act out and record scenes from Romeo and Juliet. The scenes were all put together so each class got to watch a home-made movie of the play. This made the content much more accessible and amusing, two important factors when you’re trying to reach 9th graders with Shakespeare.

In Humanities, one of our big group projects was to create a miniature ancient civilization in a cardboard box, and then destroy and bury it (in sand). We would trade boxes with another group and then have to act as archeologists, uncovering the remains of this unknown civilization and developing theories as to what was important to them, and how they were destroyed. It was a great experience to demonstrate what we value in society, as well as what kind of message we’re going to leave behind.

Carl K. Oliver, CHES – First Breath and My Baby & Me Program Coordinator


Dr. Keely S. Rees, Director of the Undergraduate Community Health Education Program and Assistant Professor, taught my first Intro to Community Health Education course and her spirit and energy had me hooked! Our shared passion for women’s health created a strong connection and she soon became an important mentor in my life. Outside of regular coursework, Keely and I had a lot of interaction with one another: she was a leader of the Eta Sigma Gamma Health Education Honor Society where I was involved as a committee member; I was a Teacher’s Assistant for her Women’s Health course; she was an instructor on my Study Abroad trip in Galway, Ireland; and I also babysit her children from time to time. We still keep in touch today, and most recently I was able to attend a seminar she put on called, “Body Speaks” at the University of Wisconsin- LaCrosse. Her continued enthusiasm for the field of women’s health inspires me to this day. A former classmate of mine recently said, “You know, you’re really starting to remind me of Keely!” I couldn’t imagine a better compliment.

Chelsea Stover, CHES – First Breath and My Baby & Me Program Coordinator

Our 14th Annual Spring Gala is finally here!

The much anticipated fundraiser and celebration will take place tomorrow, May 4th, 2013 at the State Capitol Rotunda.  We can’t wait to share dancing, dinner and drinks with our supporters and sponsors.

If you can’t make it to the event this year, we will be sure to share pictures of the event coming soon!

Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation’s Champions in Women’s Health

The Champions in Women’s Health Awards honor individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and devoted themselves to improving the quality of life for women and families. Nominees may include consumer advocates, volunteers, health care professionals, employees of non-profits, and individuals who have overcome a significant health issue and inspired other women to become advocates for their own health.

Champions are honored for their work during a luncheon celebration on Saturday, May 4 and also during our Spring Gala at the beautiful State Capitol Rotunda later that evening.

This year’s Champions in Women’s Health are a stellar group of individuals making a difference in the areas of substance use disorders, breast and cervical cancer and women in health leadership roles. They include:

  • Jim Riordan – Lifetime Achievement Award – President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation, Madison
  • Frank Byrne, MD – President, St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison
  • Susan Gadacz, MA – Director, Community Services Branch, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, Milwaukee
  • Mindy Gribble, RN, HNB-BC – WINGS Survivorship Program Coordinator, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield
  • Claudia Guevara – Breast Health Advocate, Columbia St. Mary’s, Milwaukee
  • Gale Johnson – Program Director, Wisconsin Well Woman Program, Madison
  • Carol Williams, PhD – Scientist & Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

For more information on our Champions please click here.


Everyday Health Heroes

Mary Anderson
By day, Mary is a database specialist at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. By night and weekend, she is a tireless breast cancer advocate, community volunteer, and caregiver for elderly family members and neighbors. Mary and her son, John, created the “Bowling for a Cure” event that has raised over $21,000 to support breast cancer research. She also goes out of her way to support women who are cancer survivors. For example, in December, Mary popped into a co-workers office with a package wrapped in pink saying, “your sister-in-law is a survivor, right? Give her this when you see her for the holidays.” Mary is also active in the Luke House Community Meal Program. In 1986, she spearheaded her church’s involvement with the meal program and her efforts have resulted in nearly 30 years of meals on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Mary is kind, generous, and always gracious.

Tammy Andries
Since diagnosis with a rare form of pancreatic cancer 8 years ago, Tammy has been the catalyst behind an effort to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer. She lobbies Congress and the NIH, raises funds for research, and holds the hand of those losing their battles with the disease. She uses personal time and energy to fight hard to combat this under-recognized and under-funded cancer, reaching out to families via phone, email, flowers, and lunches. Tammy’s courage and willingness to share about her diagnosis and battle with cancer has served as an inspiration for countless other women and families in Wisconsin. Tammy was nominated by the NET Alliance for the work that she has done raising awareness.

Sara Pickard
Sara has led the explosive growth of Girls on the Run of Dane County for the last six years, reaching over 4,000 girls in the process. Sara is an enthusiastic and passionate leader, helping build the next generation of women leaders through healthy lifestyle programming, curriculum and exercise. Girls on the Run addresses many aspects of girls’ development – their physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being. The lessons that Sara and her coaches provide teach girls how to make healthy choices and avoid risky adolescent behaviors. Girls on the Run unleashes confidence through accomplishment, while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. Sara’s professional skills are outstanding and her leadership supporting girls’ wellness is inspiring.

Jonelle Secard
Jonelle is the Executive Assistant/Webmaster for Attic Angel Association and, every day, she helps her colleagues make healthier choices through leading by example. Jonelle is a member of the Wellness Committee for the community. She and Lisa McGlynn offer weekly meditation classes to the employees and, when time and space become available, she plans to offer classes to the residents and Attic Angel volunteers as well. Jonelle invites co-workers to attend yoga class with her and offers nonjudgmental suggestions for healthy eating, not to mention tantalizing colleagues with her delicious looking lunches! Jonelle shares her enthusiasm for fitness and shares new ideas or challenges that she enjoyed. She also readily shares her amazing laughter and encourages a healthy work/life balance. Jonelle is a “great guns” rock star at Attic Angel and all of her colleagues appreciate her efforts to keep them thinking and living healthy!


May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is a very special month for women it is a time to honor our Mothers and to continue to care of our health!

Like heart disease, stroke is a major threat to the health and well being of women.  Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women and stroke is number three. Stroke is also the leading cause of severe, long-term disability in women.  A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

Honor the month of May as Stroke Awareness, by understanding your personal risk factors, learning the most common signs of a stroke and dialing 9-1-1 if you experience even one of the signs below!

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  3. Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Another way to remember the signs of a stroke is with F.A.S.T. acronym:
F:  Facing drooping
A:  Arm weakness
S:  Speech difficulty
T:  Time to call 9-1-1

FAST Stroke Awareness Video Clip 

For more information about Stroke Awareness, check out the Wisconsin Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program or the American Stroke Association.


Support our Mission!

Please help us continue offering free women’s health outreach and education programs statewide.  100% of your tax deductible donation stays right here in Wisconsin.  Donate today and help Wisconsin women and families reach their healthiest potential. Thank you!

You can also check out our online auction, which will be going on until May 4th.